Tag Archives: Chemistry

The Birth of Chemistry

Annales de Chimie, Tome Premier. Paris, 1789. Octavo, 22cm. Mallet Chemistry Library.

Antoine de Lavoisier (1743-1794) was one of the founding fathers of the modern science of chemistry.  He and his contemporaries established a more quantitative, empirical method of inquiry grounded in physics and mathematics. In 1789, as the French Revolution was beginning, Lavoisier and his colleagues, including Claude-Louis Berthollet and Antoine-François Fourcroy, launched the first French chemical journal, Annales de Chimie. Despite the upheavals of the Revolution and Lavoisier’s own execution during the Reign of Terror, the Annales became a major component of the early literature of chemistry.

The establishment of a strong chemical research library was a high priority for the University’s first chemistry professors. Significant sums were spent on acquiring complete runs of major chemical journals. The first series of the Annales (volumes 1-96, 1789-1815) was purchased in 1914 for $325 – over $7,300 in 2014 dollars, and resides in the Mallet Chemistry Library.

Contributed by Mallet Chemistry Library Head Librarian David Flaxbart.

In Memoriam: Dr. James E. Boggs

Dr. James E. Boggs. Photo from the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry.

James E. Boggs, longtime chemistry professor and library benefactor, passed away on June 2, 2013, at the age of 91.

Dr. Boggs came to The University of Texas at Austin in 1953, after working in the Manhattan Project as an Oberlin College undergraduate and then getting his PhD at the University of Michigan.  In 1948 he married Ruth Ann Rogers, a librarian.  They had originally planned to stay only a few years in Texas, but ended up spending the rest of their lives in Austin.

A physical chemist specializing in molecular structure and dynamics with over 400 scientific publications, Boggs established the long-running Austin Symposium on Molecular Structure, which convened here starting in 1966.  As a popular teacher he pioneered a course on science in society and taught freshman chemistry for many years.

Boggs was an avid traveler and internationalist, and worked for years with the Overseas Study Program to seek out talented chemists in far-flung places around the world, providing them with professional opportunities to publish, travel, and work as post-docs in his lab.  While he retired officially in his seventies, as professor emeritus he maintained an active work schedule and a funded laboratory up until the time of his death.

In 1998 he and his wife established the James E. and Ruth Ann Boggs Endowment Fund, which has benefited the Mallet Chemistry Library as it strives to remain one of the best chemistry collections in the country.  The endowment has enabled the purchase of many expensive monographs and reference sets over the years, and along with the Skinner Endowment provides the margin of excellence that a top research library needs.  Memorial donations may be made to the Boggs Fund via the UT giving site.

David Flaxbart is the head librarian of the Mallet Chemistry Library.